27 January 2009


Filed under: Reflections — ktismatics @ 6:21 am

UPDATE — scroll to the bottom of the post for latest developments.

* * *

My instincts aren’t very well attuned to ordinary life in the modern world. For example, I find it very difficult to use my cell phone. I rarely remember to take it with me. If I do, and if it rings, I frequently manage to flip the phone open and then shut it again in the same move, thus hanging up on the caller. I can’t figure out how to listen to messages, or how to delete them after someone has helped me with the listening part.

I also have a very poor sense of direction. I seem incapable of constructing mental maps, relying instead on following specific pathways to and from the places I need to go — sort of like a rat running a maze. I usually leave extra time to get somewhere in the car, since I expect I’ll make at least one wrong turn somewhere along the way. Sometimes I forget where I parked the car, and must walk around in circles for a long time looking for it. Since my sense of direction is so poor, I’m prone to getting lost again looking for the lost auto.

So last night I went to the local university to see the student film awards, during which all the nominated films are shown (some really interesting and experimental stuff BTW — maybe I’ll post on them later). I was going to take a bus, but time got short and so I drove instead. Turns out I took the bus anyway — took it home, that is. I lost the car. I was pretty sure I parked it on 12th Street — I remember reading the street sign as I hustled off toward the university — somewhere near Euclid Street. It was about 5 degrees Fahrenheit with light snow when I got out of the screening, and I walked around for more than an hour looking for the car. It was dark and the cars were snow-coated, making it difficult to tell one from another. Still, our car has a carrying rack on top, which gives it at least a bit of visual distinction. Finally I gave up, hoping for better luck this morning in the daylight. It’s possible I parked illegally and the car was towed away, but I couldn’t call while I was out there looking — I actually had the cell phone with me, but the batteries were dead. I called the police when I got home, but they had no record of our car having been impounded. They suggested I call back in the morning in case the paperwork hadn’t cleared yet. So I’ll do that before hopping back on the bus and resuming my search (temp. currently 5 below Fahrenheit).

Maybe I’ll take my new mini-videocam with me to record my adventures, try to restore at least a semblance of my dignity by turning it into a documentary.

* * *

Later that day…

If for some reason you don’t want to watch 9 minutes of me trying to track down my car, you can breathe a sigh of relief — the wayward vehicle has been recovered!



  1. We share the cell phone conflict. It never ceases to amaze me how often I forget it. But then again, I come from a time when we relied on our wits rather than a cry for help.


    Comment by Dave — 27 January 2009 @ 9:57 am

  2. Oh my…oh my. Well, I’m glad you found it and it was none of the horrible things it could have been. Good for the police too; sounds like they were helpful.

    And it’s a nice documentary. I think it’s going to extremes to lose the car so you have a good topic, though.

    Do you feel wary of driving and parking again?


    Comment by Anne — 27 January 2009 @ 11:27 pm

  3. “I come from a time when we relied on our wits rather than a cry for help.”

    This sounds like a line from a novel, Dave. Or maybe a trailer for an action-hero movie, announced by a guy with a big resonant voice: “In a time when when men relied on our wits…” I just prefer crying for help in person rather than on a cell phone.

    “Do you feel wary of driving and parking again?”

    I always-already feel this wariness, Vic, as you well know. When I stopped back at the police station I tentatively proposed my space-alien-levitation theory of how the car moved 3 blocks from where I’d parked it. They listened bemusedly, but I got the sense they weren’t going to assign any detectives to investigate my allegation. The cop who found the car was great. I’m happy you found your car sir, he said in perfect police cadences. Au contraire, I replied: it was you who found it. The officer said hey, no problem: I get in my squad car, turn on the radio, listen to music, drive around looking for a lost vehicle — my pleasure. You have a good day now, Mr. Doyle. Something tells me there are other places where the police aren’t quite so obliging.


    Comment by ktismatics — 28 January 2009 @ 7:42 am

  4. yep…lucky


    Comment by Anne — 28 January 2009 @ 3:49 pm

  5. clysmatics, in ALL honesty, it’s a darn pity the documentry didn’t arrive in time for the Parody Oscars


    Comment by parodycenter — 28 January 2009 @ 4:12 pm

  6. At least now I don’t have to prepare an acceptance speech.


    Comment by ktismatics — 28 January 2009 @ 4:15 pm

  7. clysmatics a career shift towards film-making is NOT
    recommended, at least not at this point.

    anyway what’s this hot air business around dr. harman, who apparently has the biggest of the object-oriented blawgosphere, as long as he’s in everyone’s bookmarks? i don’t have the awpartunity now to dig into the matter, but you might be able to provide a summary. what is the ALLURE, and all. saw some really good movies, writing now about it on the blawg.


    Comment by parody center — 28 January 2009 @ 7:22 pm

  8. It’s my personal take on the heroic quest.

    I’ve already put up two posts related to Harman’s 2nd book, which I should finish tomorrow or the next day, at which point I may have some further remarks to offer.


    Comment by ktismatics — 28 January 2009 @ 7:35 pm

  9. his appearance has the quality of Darth Vader’s arrival at the imperial spaceship; suddenly you see all the captains turning blue, their eyes bulging and mouths wide open in a mixture of awe and terror. ”As Dr. Harman would say”…”Dr. Harman, who writes in Twitter mode”…”Dr. Harman, that OBELISK of wisdom” …I haven’t seen such a rain of links in the two years of object-disoriented blawging, not to mention the ”kerfuffle” that broke out between the narcissistic cat and Mikhail, which will soon be the subject of an elaborate cabaret.

    the problem with the film, Clysmatics, is that you’re not as alluring as Dr. Harman, apparently, so you can’t turn this mundane situation into MAGICK.


    Comment by parody center — 28 January 2009 @ 8:17 pm

  10. Well of course that’s ONE of the problems with the film (I like that you call it a “film” though), but I daresay Dr. Harman didn’t lose HIS car at the university recently.


    Comment by ktismatics — 28 January 2009 @ 9:35 pm

  11. You do have a screen presence, though (not as BIG as dr. Harman’s, mind you; his is the BIGGEST). Your voice is clear, and a certain deadpan whimsicality comes into picture. Reminded me a bit of that Jarmusch movie, Broken Flowers. Maybe the next thing to try is to film one of your stories?

    But on to philosophy, my stomach hurts from all the phraseology being now deployed for the newest object-oriented fad, so I really want you to lay down the basics for me. Is the ultimate idea that objects have a life of their own, and what’s the consequence of this practically? Related to transcendental materialism? Does it have any consequence unrelated to dr. Harman’s endowment?

    I know that in Action Script, a programming language used in design, you have so-called object-oriented programing. Sounds like completely dry Dominique Fox territory.


    Comment by parodycenter — 28 January 2009 @ 10:09 pm

  12. I’d say the camerawork conveys my alienation from machines, and perhaps from the world as well. I can’t get my cell phone to work, or the printer either; that I can actually run the camera and take pictures of anything is remarkable in itself. But what I show onscreen is sort of alienating I think: bleak cold mountains, empty football fields, neighborhoods passing by the bus window, the frigid streets and sidewalks of what seems like an uninhabited city. But even in this alienating world the viewer gets to know something about me I suspect. This could easily be one of my stories — it’s quite in keeping with several of the brief episodes that comprise the first part of Prop O’Gandhi. If I were a real filmmaker I’d try to convey most of the story through pictures rather than words. At least I’d have filmed my conversations with the Michigan guy and with the police. I did rather like the first part where I have to keep repeating my story on the phone with the police — thought about editing it down to just one recounting, but the over-and-overness is part of the experience of dealing with a bureaucracy. And I think there’s something sort of unexpected about how the story turns out.

    My voice becomes somewhat less clear as I’m walking around: my mouth was quite frozen so I found it difficult to enunciate. So, e.g., when I say that the Michigan guy was bumming change on the sidewalk, even I can’t discern the word “bumming” on the audio portion. Did you detect my Midwestern accent? The Michigan guy did: he asked for change to buy beer and cigarettes, I started chatting with him, he asked me if I was from the Midwest, maybe from Michigan? Good ear on that guy. He tells me he used to party in Michigan back in the seventies. Dude, I tell him, the seventies are still here: we just have to start LOOKING for them. And then he starts telling me about his days as a football player, the quarterbacks for Ohio State and Michigan State whom he played against, specific plays he remembers from specific games, etc. And I’m thinking: this guy’s memory is still in great shape, given that he’s probably done a lot of partying over the decades. Anyhow, would we have had this conversation if I’d had the camera running? It could be scripted now, after the fact, but I’m quite sure I don’t want to be documenting my own live moments with a camera.

    Regarding Dr. Harman, I mentioned that I’d put up a couple of prior posts, one of which is also a video: if you have questions about them please feel free to ask. Or maybe the possibly forthcoming third post will reveal all. I will say this, though: it’s not about object-oriented programming. Also, I encourage you to read one of Dr. Harman’s recent posts entitled The Marketing Angle, in which he shows a distinct flare for self-parodic fiction writing.


    Comment by ktismatics — 29 January 2009 @ 4:59 am

  13. I don’t WANTA read; it’s boring. Every quarter they announce some radical and existentially important shift (in this case, from the human subject to the inanimate world or something) which on retrospect neither paid my bills nor made me happier in life. And all in convoluted high-fallutin’ Gothic language which makes it inaccessible to mortals. The tete-a-tete between the narcissistic cat and the Russian snarky was much more exciting, too bad they didn’t end up clawing each other’s eyes out.


    Comment by parodycenter — 29 January 2009 @ 6:01 am

  14. I observe, PC, that the conversation has shifted from the subject of this post — namely me — to Dr. Harman, and yet you say that you don’t really want to know what he has to say anyway. And now you move on to 2 other bloggers’ disputes? Never mind.


    Comment by ktismatics — 29 January 2009 @ 6:35 am

  15. On the other hand, PC… other than blueVicar who is virtually obliged to make a remark on this post, you’re the only reader to put up a comment about my little adventure in carfinding and moviemaking, so thanks for that. I notice that the photo taken by Latour of Harman talking with Meillassoux generated no comments on Harman’s blog, so I guess it’s to be expected that a blogger’s embarrassing self-exposure should be met with stony silence.


    Comment by ktismatics — 29 January 2009 @ 8:23 am

  16. Well, I watched your video. It was quite enjoyable. It reminded me of something by George Kuchar. Chigger Country perhaps.


    Comment by NB — 29 January 2009 @ 10:10 am

  17. PC,

    What happened to your blog?


    Comment by NB — 29 January 2009 @ 10:10 am

  18. I know nothing of Kuchar, NB, so I looked him up on Wikipedia. The entry begins thusly:

    George Kuchar (born August 31, 1942, New York City) is an American film director, known for his “low-fi” aesthetic, playful use of no-talent actors, plotless plots, and themeless themes. Trained as a commercial artist in a vocational high school, the School of Industrial Art, he drew weather maps for a local news show. During this period, he and his twin brother Mike Kuchar were making 8mm movies which were showcased in the then-burgeoning underground film scene alongside films by Andy Warhol, Kenneth Anger, and Stan Brakhage.

    No-talent actors? Plotless plots? Yes, you’ve hit the nail on the head, NB. To be mentioned in the same context as Stan Brakhage is particularly apt, since for many years Brakhage was director of the Film Studies department at the University of Colorado, which is where I’d gone to see the student films when I lost my car.


    Comment by ktismatics — 29 January 2009 @ 10:22 am

  19. NB I had a serious crash in private life to which my correspondent de Camembert reacted inappropriately, so in a bout of fury I destroyed the blawg. A more ”serious” version is floating about on http://www.parodycentrum.blogspot.com but I am no longer hiring Jonquille’s services.


    Comment by parodycenter — 29 January 2009 @ 11:08 am

  20. I love this post. This is a great first venture into a new documentary filmmaking! The preceding text is what makes it so wonderful though, so I think you should consider it a multi-media venture. Your deadpan tone is very good. I look forward to seeing more of your films. Perhaps one of mowing the lawn? :-)

    That cell phone thing — I have it too. So do some of my closest friends. If we actually are able to reach each other on the phone, it is nothing short of a miracle. I can’t hear/can’t find my phone when I’m freaking holding it in my hand. And I’m not exaggerating. I think it’s a sign of brilliant and creative minds. Ha ha.


    Comment by Kim Dot Dammit — 29 January 2009 @ 12:40 pm

  21. so I guess it’s to be expected that a blogger’s embarrassing self-exposure should be met with stony silence.

    You know what a cold place the blawgosphere really is, but don’t worry, I really MEANT what I said about your screen charisma. To be more precise you have a specific sense of humor which I think I picked up very well when I created the 1950s house doctor Dr. Clysmatics. I suspect also Kim was immediately drawn to its video diary format, which figures, because it somehow works here, although I don’t know yet why.

    I have an ambiguous relationship to object-oriented philosophy. It sounds alluring, but then as soon as they turn gravely materialistic I get bored. And as usual, of all the texts presented, only Shaviro made it clear or at least semi-clear. The debate between Sinthome and Mikhail was one of the more successful satires this year.


    Comment by parodycenter — 29 January 2009 @ 1:12 pm

  22. Well thanks for the support. I’m not about to become a filmmaker, but I want to get a bit more personal, break down the fourth wall in the blogs. Especially if I’m going to start interviewing other people, I should be willing to let myself be seen and heard as well. I got a phone call from an old friend who lurks on the blog saying that he enjoyed my video as well, so that was nice. The camera is really tiny, about the size of a cell phone. And I’ve got a collapsible desktop tripod which folds up to about the size of a pen. Very portable apparatus.


    Comment by ktismatics — 29 January 2009 @ 2:19 pm

  23. Did you just say the camera is the size of a CELL PHONE? Perhaps you should find a different descriptive word, I mean, just so you don’t curse yourself. (The camera is ringing but I can’t hear it!).


    Comment by Kim Dot Dammit — 29 January 2009 @ 3:15 pm

  24. Good point. Hmm. The size of a… transistor radio? That’s more my speed. I just mentioned transistor radio to my daughter and she had no idea what I was talking about.


    Comment by ktismatics — 29 January 2009 @ 3:41 pm

  25. Ktis,

    GK is one of my favourite directors. Here’s a 70s piece from YouTube.



    Comment by NB — 30 January 2009 @ 5:53 am

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